LA receives $85 million in state funds to address homelessness 

LOS ANGELES became the first city in California to receive $85 million in state funds for projects aimed at reducing homelessness, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced this week. 

The city received $85 million, its full disbursement of state Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) dollars, which will be used to fund two A Bridge Home projects — one in Hollywood and the other at the VA in West L.A.

“We pushed for these dollars because the homelessness crisis demands urgent action, and we’re putting them to work immediately because our neighbors and neighborhoods can’t wait,” said Garcetti in a statement. “These funds will help us start getting people under a roof more quickly and giving our communities the additional relief they deserve.”

The $85 million in HEAP dollars were awarded to the city for immediate assistance to people experiencing homelessness, with another $81 million awarded to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA). Funding is flexible and can be used for capital; operating support; homelessness prevention; criminal justice diversion efforts for individuals with mental health challenges; services for homeless youth or those at risk of homelessness; and emergency aid like shelters, beds, voluntary storage, public bathrooms and shower facilities.

“We are thrilled that we were able to get this money to the city of Los Angeles so quickly,” said Alexis Podesta, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and Chair of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. “We’re also pleased that the city plans to use this money immediately to begin addressing its homelessness issues. We look forward to working with other cities and counties throughout the state to help them address homelessness.”

In early 2018, Mayor Garcetti led a coalition of California’s big city Mayors to call on Governor Brown to direct a portion of the state’s budget surplus to cities hardest hit by the statewide homeless crisis. In June, the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed a budget that included $359 million for cities to spend on homelessness.

“My colleagues in the Legislature and I understand that truly ending homelessness requires collaboration across governments,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “The $85 million allocated to the City of Los Angeles is key to getting more people off the streets and into safe housing. As the representative for Skid Row, I will continue finding solutions to end the homeless crisis in our state.”

The first of these projects is in Hollywood, and will offer 70 beds for individuals currently encamped near the site. It has already received approval from the City Council and broke ground last week. This site will be supported with mental health, addiction, and job and housing placement specialists from People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and the Center at Blessed Sacrament. This project will receive a check for $1.67 million, and is projected to open in early 2019.

The city will also disburse funds to a project at the West Los Angeles campus of the VA that will offer 100 beds to veterans experiencing homelessness. This project has already received necessary approval from the City Council and will break ground in the coming weeks. These veterans will be supported with mental health professionals, addiction specialists, job and housing placement counselors from the Veterans Affairs Administration. This project will receive a check in the amount of $1.43 million, and is expected to open early next year.

Building on L.A.’s broader strategy to assist homeless Angelenos and those at risk of becoming homeless — which includes creating thousands of units of supportive housing, increasing the overall housing supply by at least 100,000 units, and working with the County to expand mental health services — the HEAP funds will allow the city to expedite the opening of A Bridge Home projects that are designed to help people come off the streets more quickly. (AJPress)

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